Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Blog Sifting

I remember when I first dived into the blogosphere and started devouring blogposts. It was like discovering a new favorite dessert and I couldn’t get enough of it. So many new shiny blogs to read! So much great advice to be uncovered in blog archives! So many links to other blogs and then articles and then writer websites! Tasty and overwhelming for a first-timer.

Blog Tip #1: There’s a whole world of blogs and online articles out there. It’s foolish to limit yourself to a handful. Many a golden post or article is buried in archives and doing some digging always reaps a bountiful harvest.

I certainly learned a lot at a fast rate. Then I hit stage two, where I realized that I would never reach the end of the blogosphere. Unless I dropped everything else in my life and devoted all my time to reading what was online, I might get to the point where I’d seen it all and stay afloat with all the new blogs and posts that come up daily. It just isn’t possible.

Blog Tip #2: Becoming a discerning blog reader. After awhile you’ll get a feel for which blogs give you what you want and need and which ones don’t. Assess those personal needs and wants when making up your list of favorites. You don’t have to follow every blog out there. Yet don’t close yourself completely off once your list is made. New stars rise all the time in the blogosphere. It’s still good to go out and do a random sampling of new material every once in awhile.

Stage three then set in. Not all blogs agree, especially writing and publishing blogs. Even the professionals don’t see things the same way. That was a big eye opener. In fact, most blogs are really op-eds or subjective lists. Anything from book reviews, to submission guidelines, to writing techniques and advice. I learned to take everything with a huge grain of salt.

Blog Tip #3: Look for patterns or advice that agree more than disagree if trying to teach yourself the ropes. If blogger A and blogger B give out opposing advice, search around for confirmation to the question from many others, not just one or two more. And remember that some issues have two or three camps with no definitive wrong answer. The blogosphere is faulty, flawed, and sometimes dead wrong.

In the next stage I saw a disturbing trend, popularity. Wow, I thought, here we are back in high school. All the old social rules and cliques apply. Some frivolous blogs have droves of followers, other more substantial and useful blogs are buried in obscurity, and there are several levels in between. There are niche blogs (which tend to do well if they corner the niche before the masses) and blogs of professionals (which get a following because they are professionals.) Depending on your reading preference, and which crowd you like to pal around with, there’s something for everyone.

Blog Tip #4: You don’t have to follow popular blogs if they don’t float your boat. There’s nothing wrong with that. You don’t have to have a popular blog to be a successful blogger either. Be yourself. There are all kinds of tastes and needs out there.

Then came the brave day when I submitted my first few comments to a couple of blogs. I laugh now at my shyness. Sure, the blogger didn’t always comment back, and sometimes I really liked a post but didn’t have anything to add to it, and sometimes other commentators beat me to the punch. I soon found out that bloggers like to get comments and to carry on the conversation. Whether it’s a congratulations on an achievement, or a question, or some helpful return advice, or even an anecdote, it’s appreciated.

Blog Tip #5: You won’t be graded on whether you ever commented or not on a blog. So if you’re happiest being a lurker, it’s okay. But, bloggers do like to know they aren’t writing to a vacuum. Don’t be afraid that lightning will strike you if you dare say anything. Remember to be courteous and mind your manners. No one likes to find a troublemaker stirring up trouble in anyone’s comments section.

Nowadays, I tend to spend less time reading blogs. I’m not glutting myself on new and exciting information about how the industry works. I am keeping tabs on the pulse and watching for great posts and discussions going on. I confess I’m not a avid commentator either, that’s just me. I do comment once in awhile or I’ll share the link to a really good post on Twitter or my writing website on occasion. I think the blogosphere is a great tool and it’s exciting to be part of it now, but I do heartily recommend sifting through the blogosphere over a period of time to make it manageable and to make it work for you, not the other way around.

Have you had similar or other stages of enlightenment regarding the blogosphere you feel like sharing? Have any great advice on how you siphon blogs? How much time to you devote to the blogosphere (both reading and writing for?)


  1. You're not writing in a vacuum, I promise. Great post, per usual:)

  2. Thanks Angie. And I take it you didn't get struck by lightning for making a comment, just as I predicted. =)